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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Legal Ed's Futures: No. 13

I am excited to (however belatedly) join the conversation to which Professor Madison’s postings have so thoughtfully invited all of us.

Over the course of forthcoming posts, I hope to variously engage implications of the world’s growing complexity for the future of legal education; the need for experimentalism in legal education; the importance of law, regulation, and even “legal reasoning” for an ever-widening universe of non-lawyer professionals; the potential benefits of re-thinking the targets of faculty governance, and the place of leadership education in law schools – among other things.  Along the way, I may even try to make the case that we stand on the precipice of a “Golden Age” of legal education.

For the moment, though, let me offer two introductory points:

First, as my talk of a golden age for legal education suggests, I am deeply optimistic about our future.  There is much work to be done, and no assurance of success.  And only those prepared to innovate – sometimes in big ways – are likely to succeed.  For those that are prepared to do so, though, the fundamentals are not merely sound, but very promising.

Professor Madison’s postings, with what he himself describes as their “occasionally grim tone,” might be read to the contrary.  In point of fact, as he likewise highlights in his concluding paragraph, he too is “optimistic about the future.”  And for the same reason:  “I also believe that our collective power to shape our own futures – and that of law and the legal system – is immense.”

Which points to my second introductory offering: 

In his postings, Professor Madison invites us (all) to a kind of “distributed collaboration” model of shaping the future of legal education (and law and the legal system more generally).  As with Wikipedia, Linux, and other settings in which the wisdom of groups serves to generate value, he suggests in Part IV that “[i]f done well, imaginatively and carefully, then extending, distilling and combining conversations [regarding law and legal education] should lead not only to conceptual frameworks for action but also to actionable guidance itself, drawn from multiple perspectives and looking to multiple audiences.”

We have a tendency, as lawyers and perhaps especially as law professors, to reify the value of individual insight and expertise.  And hence to offer our analyses, views, and recommendations as finished products to be either embraced (ordinarily) or rejected (rarely, if ever).  Against that backdrop, Professor Madison’s invitation might offer the opportunity not only to achieve greater insight as to the future of legal education (as well as the “actionable guidance” he describes), but perhaps also to rethink the way we think as lawyers.  And thereby the value that we bring to our social, economic, and political life.  And perhaps even our future.

Robert Ahdieh (Emory)

Posted by Dan Rodriguez on March 10, 2018 at 10:22 AM | Permalink


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